King Salman orders Saudi government to serve pilgrims during Hajj

Trained scholars and technology will help Muslims complete their pilgrimage

The first flight carrying Hajj pilgrims from Dubai arrives in Jeddah on Tuesday. SPA
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Saudi Arabia's King Salman ordered all government sectors to “serve the pilgrims during Hajj to the best of their abilities” at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

The Saudi monarch said “serving Hajj and Umrah pilgrims has been at the forefront of the kingdom’s priority since its establishment and still is”.

One hundred scholars have been assigned to answer pilgrims' queries during Hajj and information-dispensing robots with 21-inch touchscreens will be located at the main entrances of the Mataf area. The robots will be able to communicate in 11 languages, including English, Urdu, Russian and Chinese.

As the coronavirus pandemic wanes, the kingdom has opened up the Hajj to foreign pilgrims, and as of Sunday, a total of 282,523 pilgrims from all over the world had arrived in Madinah.

The first group of pilgrims from Dubai and Sri Lanka departed for Hajj on Tuesday. From June 23 to July 20, Emirates airline will open 31 additional flights to Jeddah and double the daily flights to Madinah.

Only Hajj pilgrims will be allowed to perform Umrah between June 24 and July 19, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced this week.

Regular Umrah reservations will reopen beginning on July 19 for other pilgrims wishing to performing Umrah in the Grand Mosque via The Eatmarna app.

Last year, the kingdom announced that pilgrims wishing to perform the Umrah could apply for a visa through an electronic processing application, which will also enable pilgrims to easily find accommodation and book transport as well.

Only 1,000 pilgrims from within the kingdom were allowed to participate in the ritual in 2020 and that number was increased to 60,000 last year, with participating citizens or residents — who needed to be fully vaccinated — chosen through an online draw.

Hajj is one of the world's largest gatherings and about 2.5 million people performed the religious ritual in 2019.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court called on all Muslims in the kingdom to sight the Dhu Al Hijjah crescent moon on Wednesday evening. The sighting of the moon marks the beginning of the month during which Hajj is performed. People have been advised to report the sighting to the nearest court.

The Hajj must be performed by Muslims at least once in their lives if they are financially and physically able.

Updated: July 06, 2022, 11:23 AM